This weekend we made the journey back to Oxbow Trading Company to return Gemini’s cart & harness for Katie-sized gear. Here is the tale of that particular adventure.
With just 2 days to get there & back, we decided to squeeze in some roadside touristry. The first stop after breakfast (Chicago dogs at Gunnar’s Coffee Cabin in Cle Elum) was Granger, WA. We’d noticed a pterodactyl when we went zipping by the first time, but were in such a hurry to get home we didn’t stop. The crazy concrete dinosaurs are definitely worth exploring though. A quick loop through town provided ample photo fodder. The funny thing is that no dinosaur fossils were ever found in the area. The town public works crew just likes making them.
The next stop was John Day, OR to check into our room at the Dreamer’s Lodge motel. A bit old-fashioned looking on the outside, but clean, comfortable and locally owned. We would definitely stay there again. The next morning we had some time to spare before meeting up with Jim at Oxbow, so we started exploring the town of Canyon City. We ended up at an old cemetery on a hilltop overlooking the town & canyon. Just outside the main area were 4 graves, fenced off from the rest. A sign explained that local legend says 2 hanged horse thieves, and 2 prostitutes (drowned in a flash flood) were buried there in unhallowed ground in the 1890’s. This site has some interesting history & pictures of the area, including it’s past as a gold rush boom town.
After exploring the myriad wagons, antiques & general knick-knackery at Oxbow, and barely squeezing Katie’s new cart into the truck bed, we headed north. The John Day Fossil Beds national park was recommended as an interesting stop, so we altered course a bit to have a look. There are a few sites being excavated in this area, but we only had time for the visitor center at the Sheep Rock site. Millions of years of history awaited us. Volcanoes, pogonodons, a live paleontology lab, very friendly staff, etc. The landscape is absolutely stunning as well.
After a too-brief exploration, it was time to hit the road again. We stopped in the town of Fossil, OR next, where you can dig your own fossils (another reason to come back soon). Spotting an interesting building a few blocks away (the Wheeler County courthouse built in 1902), we circled around to get a picture. In the process, we drove past a small building with a giant skeleton in the window, and hit the brakes to investigate. It was a half-scale replica of the Mitchell plesiosaur, housed in the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute field center.
Back on the road, and nearing the Columbia River, there were snow squalls and miles of gigantic, eerie windmills. Not sure why they are so fascinating and creepy, but it’s always odd to see them coming over the horizon. The wind, as usual, was howling as we dipped down into the gorge and back up through Goldendale. By the time we neared Snoqualmie Pass, snow was falling fast and visibility was terrible. As darkness fell, they closed the pass to clear numerous accidents, and to make sure only vehicles with chains or all-wheel drive were heading over. It’s easy to forget that we’re still at the mercy of the elements, but the weather and terrain are what make the PNW such a great place to live. We crept over the summit at 35mph, eventually making it home late Saturday night, after travelling through 2 states, 15 counties, 9+ passes, nearly 1000 miles in 36 hours.
It looks like we’re planning to attend the Small Farmers Journal auction in April 2012. Can’t wait for another high plains adventure in eastern Oregon!